High School: 15-17
People have fond and not-so-fond memories of high school, but they are all a part of the process of growing up and becoming an independent adult. It also is a time to prepare for the next step of their education and/or begin a career. Although it is full of high-stake decisions, it also can be full of fun and laughter.
These steps will help make your child’s high school experience a great one:
- Although you might not always get a response, ask your child how his/her day was and show an interest in their schooling, activities and social life.
- From a distance, monitor your child’s homework activity so you have an idea if they are struggling to get everything done.
- Ensure they have a safe, productive place to work on school projects and other after-school activities.
- During the sophomore or junior year, encourage them to explore career and schooling options, including scholarships, colleges, universities, trade schools, employment, etc.
- Encourage them to look into various productive extracurricular activities.
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- Talk to your child about temptations they may encounter (drugs, sex, drinking, breaking the law, etc.)
- If your child is falling into bad relationships, talk with your child about your concerns and consider putting defined restrictions on the friendship if it the behavior doesn’t change.
- Get to know your child’s friends and their friends’ parents.
- Don’t judge his/her friends by their appearance.
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It is important for parents to encourage health eating habits at meals and snacks by providing a diverse combination of fruits, vegetables, protein (beans, meat), dairy (milk, cheese) and starches (bread, pasta). For healthy snack and meal recipe ideas based on Florida produce, view the Florida Department of Agriculture’s Extreme Cuisine cookbook.
- Breakfast is the most important meal of the day. Eating breakfast helps jump-start digestion and metabolism.
- Try to make sure his/her school lunches also are healthy. If they take their lunch, consider packing meat and cheese sandwiches, cheese sticks, fruit, vegetables, yogurt, crackers, etc. If they purchase their lunch at school, encourage them to make healthy choices and not be influenced by peer pressure.
- Although their appetites are increasing, don’t fill them up with junk and fast food.
- Limit juices and soft drinks and encourage water and milk.
- Encourage healthy after-school snacks like fruit, veggies and low-fat dip, graham crackers and peanut butter, cheese and crackers, etc.
- Setting a good example yourself will make it easier to encourage and establish good, healthy eating habits.
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Children need at least one hour of exercise a day. With busy schedules, you would think it difficult for families to find the time to fit in fitness, but it is easier than you would think!
- Turn off the TV: The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children ages 2 and up (including parents!) viewing no more than one-two hours of “quality” TV. This means educational, non-violent programming.
- Get going: Encourage your child to get involved in active organized extracurricular activities like sports and dance. The costs of lessons, games, uniforms, costumes, etc. can be difficult for every family’s budget, so look for free and reduced-cost programs in your area.
- Start training: At this age, children may be active in extracurricular sports and activities. In order to fast-track their progress, they might like to run, jog, swim, skate, lift weights or participate in other activities to increase their athletic ability.
- Go outside: Going for a walk, planting in the garden, playing on the playground, swimming in the pool, playing sports and games – all of these activities are great ways to get in exercise.
- Go on a trip: Try family outings and trips that encourage fun exercise, such as canoeing or hiking at a Florida State Park – many park visits and activities are free!
- Set an example: By seeing YOU exercise, physical fitness becomes a way of life for your child. Set the example to create a healthy habit.
If your child gets involved in sports, be sure they are safe:
- Depending on the sport, be sure your child has the correct protective gear. Used-equipment stores are great places to get low-cost gear, but be sure it is safe – items like helmets should not be used again after even one collision.
- Wear a mouthguard for contact sports. There are three types of mouthguards: Ready-made (stock), mouth-formed (boil-and-bite), and custom (made by a dentist).
- Be sure your child warms up and stretches. They may not look like it but even athletes like professional football players are very flexible, reducing their risk of injury.
- Do not to fall into the cycle of repetitive sports injuries. Let your child rest immediately after a painful injury occurs. Also, give your child a two-month break each year from their specific sport.
- Drink lots of water to prevent dehydration.
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